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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

Directed by John Huston
US 1953

Director John Huston and actor Humphrey Bogart, who had previously collaborated on classics ranging from The Maltese Falcon to The African Queen, teamed up for the last time on Beat the Devil, the least known and most unfairly underrated of their five joint efforts. An exquisitely dry comedy with a witty script by Truman Capote, the film finds subtle, absurdist laughs in the misadventures of Bogart's tough customer, who becomes involved in a complex scheme to gain control of a patch of uranium-rich land in Africa. Indeed, the humor is played with such a straight face that many critics have suggested that the film's first audiences did not realize they were watching a comedy, contributing to its box office failure. Audiences in later years, however, have revived interest in the film, fully appreciating its bounty of comic riches. In addition to the well-plotted, always unpredictable script, the production is bolstered by uniformly excellent performances. Bogart treats his usual romantic cynic role with a pleasingly light touch, and establishes superb chemistry with Jennifer Jones, who portrays the female half of a seemingly proper British couple who may not be everything they seem. Especially strong laughs are provided by a memorably colorful rogue's gallery of supporting villains and kooks, including an especially nervous Peter Lorre.

 

  Posters

Theatrical Release:  November 24th, 1953

Reviews                                                                                More Reviews                                                                       DVD Reviews

 

Comparison:

Golden Years - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Film Detective - Region FREE - Blu-ray vs. Twilight Time - Region 'A' - Blu-ray vs. BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

1) Golden Years - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT

2) Film Detective - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Twilight Time - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution Golden Years - Region 0 - NTSC Film Detective
Region FREE -
Blu-ray
Twilight Time
Region 'A' -
Blu-ray
BFI
Region 'B' -
Blu-ray
Runtime 1:29:15 1:29:18.853 1:33:50.666 1:33:50.625
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.42 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

Disc Size: 23,167,647,294 bytes

Feature Size: 22,257,266,688 bytes

Total Bitrate: 29.89 Mbps

Single-layered Blu-ray MPEG4 - AVC

Disc Size: 31,606,204,526 bytes

Feature Size: 25,188,513,792 bytes

Total Bitrate: 29.99 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG4 - AVC

Disc Size: 40,041,999,086 bytes

Feature Size: 28,010,588,544 bytes

Total Bitrate: 34.92 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG4 - AVC

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Bitrate Film Detective Blu-ray

Bitrate Twilight Time Blu-ray

Bitrate BFI Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0)

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1568 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1568 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1776 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1776 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1918 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1918 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Dolby Digital Audio English 320 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 320 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 320 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 320 kbps
Subtitles SNone English (SDH), None English (SDH), None English (SDH), None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Golden Years

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
None

DVD Release Date: January 22nd, 2002

Cardboard sleeve Case
Chapters: 6

Release Information:
Studio: Film Detective

 

Disc Size: 23,167,647,294 bytes

Feature Size: 22,257,266,688 bytes

Total Bitrate: 29.89 Mbps

Single-layered Blu-ray MPEG4 - AVC

 

Edition Details:
Trailer (2:02)
 

Blu-ray Release Date: September 11th, 2014
Standard Blu-ray case

Chapters 11

Release Information:
Studio:
Twilight Time

 

Disc Size: 31,606,204,526 bytes

Feature Size: 25,188,513,792 bytes

Total Bitrate: 29.99 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG4 - AVC

 

Edition Details:
Audio Commentary with Film Historians Lem Dobbs, Julie Kirgo, and Nick Redman
Alexander Cockburn Beat the Devil (22:43)
Original Theatrical Trailer (2:28)
 

Blu-ray Release Date: January, 2019
Transparent Blu-ray case

Chapters 24

Release Information:
Studio:
BFI

 

Disc Size: 40,041,999,086 bytes

Feature Size: 28,010,588,544 bytes

Total Bitrate: 34.92 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG4 - AVC

 

Edition Details:
• Commentary by DoP Oswald Morris, Continuity gal Angela Allen, Houston's personal assistant Jeanie Sims

Audio commentary with film historians Lem Dobbs, Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman
Atomic Achievement (20:06)
By the Fireside 1945 "Maypole Tea" advert (2:03)
Stills Gallery (7:39)
Alexander Cockburn - Beat the Devil (22:28)
**FIRST PRESSING ONLY** Fully illustrated booklet featuring new writing on the film and full film credits

DVD
 

Blu-ray Release Date: March 16th, 2020
Transparent Blu-ray case

Chapters 12

 

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray March 2020: BFI's new transfer is from the same 2016 restored 4K Sony source (starting with that text below) and the image has very few differences with the US 1080P but with the higher bitrate may be marginally improved in-motion. This is also the original version.

BFI go liner PCM (24-bit) with the audio and the score by Franco Mannino (Visconti's L'innocente and Riccardo Freda's Murder Obsession) still sounds fairly tight and clean in the uncompressed. BFI add optional English subtitles (see sample below) to their Region 'B'-locked Blu-ray disc.

 

 

Extras is where the BFI augment their new Blu-ray release the most by including 2 commentaries. They also have Twilight Time's previous commentary with Lem Dobbs, Julie Kirgo, and Nick Redman (R.I.P. Nick) but add a second with DoP Oswald Morris, continuity gal Angela Allen and Houston's personal assistant Jeanie Sims. It's not a formal commentary as it has significant gaps but the information is good. Morris may be reading at times but Jeanie Sims has some great anecdotes although she is sometimes hard to make out (age or accent). I enjoyed it as these three who worked on the film sit together and share memories. BFI add a 20-minute Atomic Achievement public information film from 1956 discussing the importance of uranium imports. By the Fireside is a short 1945 "Maypole Tea" advert, there is a lengthy stills gallery and the same 23-minute Alexander Cockburn - Beat the Devil short film found on the Twilight Time. There is a second disc DVD included and for first pressing consumers a fully illustrated booklet featuring new writing on the film and full film credits.

So, the BFI nudge ahead with a slightly superior video transfer and a second, somewhat sporadic, commentary plus the booklet and short films.  

Fans of Beat the Devil will be very pleased - this oddball standout in Bogart and Huston's careers  - a stacked  4K-restored Blu-ray edition for Region 'B'-locked audiences. Strongly recommended!

***

ADDITION: Twilight Time - Region 'A' - Blu-ray January 19': Firstly, this Twilight Time Blu-ray is Region 'A'- locked (notable as they almost always Region FREE.). The Twilight Time is using a source that is "Restored in 4K by Sony Pictures Entertainment in partnership with The Film Foundation. Additional funding provided by RT Features and the Franco-American Cultural Fund, a unique partnership between the Directors Guild of America (DGA), the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), Societe des Auteurs, Compositeurs et Editeurs de Musique (SACEM), and the Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW). Restored from the 35mm Original Camera Negative and 35mm Fine Grain Master Positive. Inspection, repair and 4K scanning by Cineric, Inc. Audio restoration by Deluxe Media Audio Services. Digital image restoration by L'Immagine Ritrovata, Bologna. Conforming, additional image restoration, DCP and color grading by Deluxe Culver City. Colorist Sheri Eisenberg. "

It's obvious that this one is the vastly superior HD transfer (restored in 2016 by Sony in 4K) - improving upon every facet of the Film Detective version. The Twilight Time is cleaner (less damage and artifacts), shows more information in the frame, is sharper, better contrast, superior grain texture support - and it looks wonderful in-motion. It is authentically darker - and is heads-and-tails above the softer, damaged Film Detective edition.

NOTE: This is the original version (hence 3 minutes longer running time) not the one with narration (that most have seen) - present on the Film Detective.  

 

The audio is also a leap forward with a 24-bit lossless transfer. The score by Franco Mannino (Visconti's L'innocente and Riccardo Freda's Murder Obsession) is sparsely used but sounds richer and deeper via the Twilight Time. It also offers optional English (SDH) subtitles and their Blu-ray disc, as already mentioned, is Region 'A'-locked.

We get another excellent audio commentary with Film Historians Lem Dobbs, Julie Kirgo, and Nick Redman (R.I.P. Nick) and they explore the diverse opinions on Beat the Devil - and why - as well as comparisons of the script to the original book, a young Capote writing the screenplay - plus much more. It is professional and expands appreciation for the production with all going on behind the camera and pre-production. There is also the 23-minute Alexander Cockburn Beat the Devil - where the son of the author Claud Cockburn (which was based on the novel "Beat the Devil" by James Helvick), gives his recollections on Huston reading it and embracing the project, his father cited as a Communist and other interesting details regarding Capote. There is also an original theatrical trailer and the package has some liner notes with photos and an essay by Julie Kirgo.

***

ADDITION: Film Detective - Region FREE - Blu-ray February 16': Encouraged by Film Detective's Blu-ray of The Bat, and less-so with their A Bucket of Blood, I though I'd indulge further. Beat the Devil is public domain - kind of a throw-away film that has garnered some cult status nostalgia appeal in recent years. The DVDs I've seen are hideous and this is another, interlaced, VHS-sourced, example. Unwatchable. The Blu-ray is imperfect but a breath of fresh air by comparison. Detail significantly tightens, and contrast becomes layered, brighter visuals but there is still some minor damage and artifacts but the bitrate is high. Bottom line is that it is watchable, 1080P and offers optional subtitles.

Striving for competence and respectability, Film Detective even go lossless with the audio - a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 1568 kbps (16-bit) and it does a reasonable job with the source utilized.  The Blu-ray disc is Region FREE.

Only a trailer as an extra - but, regardless - those keen to see the film - this Blu-ray seems the best of a very bad bunch (of SDs). The BD can be had for under $10... at that price it's hard not to recommend a small place in the digital library. 

Gary W. Tooze


Menus

Golden Years - Region 0 - NTSC

 

Film Detective - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

Twilight Time - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

 

BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Sample

1) Film Detective - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Twilight Time - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Golden Years - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Film Detective - Region FREE - Blu-ray - SECOND

3) Twilight Time - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Golden Years - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Film Detective - Region FREE - Blu-ray - SECOND

3) Twilight Time - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Golden Years - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Film Detective - Region FREE - Blu-ray - SECOND

3) Twilight Time - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Damage on the Film Detective Blu-ray

 


1) Golden Years - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Film Detective - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Twilight Time - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Golden Years - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Film Detective - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Twilight Time - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Golden Years - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Film Detective - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Twilight Time - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Golden Years - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Film Detective - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Twilight Time - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Golden Years - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Film Detective - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Twilight Time - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Golden Years - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Film Detective - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Twilight Time - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Golden Years - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Film Detective - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Twilight Time - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Golden Years - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Film Detective - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Twilight Time - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Golden Years - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Film Detective - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Twilight Time - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Golden Years - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Film Detective - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Twilight Time - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Box Covers

 

 

Distribution Golden Years - Region 0 - NTSC Film Detective
Region FREE -
Blu-ray
Twilight Time
Region 'A' -
Blu-ray
 




 

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Gary Tooze

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